Not the special snowflake thing ! Not a fake kind of learned specialness that actually hinders your personal growth because you are obsessed with yourself. Not an inability to cooperate, cope, and communicate in a meaningful way with other humans.
What then? Well let’s look up Webster’s definition of special.
spe·cial | \ ˈspe-shəl \
1: distinguished by some unusual quality especially : being in some way superior our special blend
2: held in particular esteem a special friend
3a: readily distinguishable from others of the same category : UNIQUE they set it apart as a special day of thanksgiving
5: designed for a particular purpose or occasion
While it’s nice to have unusual or superior qualities and be esteemed by friends, and and/or be unique or unusual, I especially like number 5: designed for a particular purpose or occasion.
Everyone needs a purpose in life and that does not mean, to be served by others or to ‘get what you got coming to you’ or to ‘eat, drink and be merry until you die’. Some people seem to figure out their purpose at a young age, work straight towards the goal, pursue that purpose, and live very fulfilling lives. But that seems less common these days, at least it seems that way to me. I find that many young people and even older people feel lost and unsure of any meaning or purpose in their lives. They fill up their time with mind-numbing pursuits but they feel rather empty and depressed. Depression, drug addiction and other addictions are often a result of having no direction or purpose in life.
Why are so many people so unhappy, bored, seeking meaning in the wrong places, staying numb? I believe that the so-called special snowflake mentality leads to those things. Focusing way too much on one’s own feelings and desires and entitlements can ONLY lead to disillusionment with life. It’s simply not realistic or even desirable to expect to have the whole world cater to you and make you happy.
I won’t blame this on one political party because I think both parties are responsible for pushing the idea that everyone should get what they want, how they want it, in words that don’t offend them, at the price they like, in the color they like, etc, etc, and that this is possible and affordable and will happen if you just vote for them! Reality, logic and patience have become a thing of the past. Too many people are living in fantasy land. Of course, that fantasy land is mostly in what many people think SHOULD happen, not what they are actually experiencing, which leads to a major disconnect between what they have been told to EXPECT and what they are actually getting. This leads to anger, discontent, comparison with others, ingratitude for the good things they do have, constant searching for ways to get this fantasy life, blaming others that they mistakenly believe are responsible for their situation, even more escapist behaviors and the terrible division that we have in our country. That is the bad kind of special.
The good kind of special is that you are a unique, God-created human being that is not exactly like any other human being and you were born with a purpose! Your purpose is to grow, learn, and eventually become an adult that will use the majority of their time serving God and OTHERS with your unique talents, skills or knowledge. Not stay a perpetual child that expects to be treated like mommy’s favorite. The most fulfilling activities are those that help others in some way. Your job title may say something basic like customer service, teacher, manager, driver, nurse, or teller. Or you may be a CEO, business owner, or scientist. You can find a way to serve and make a difference in people’s lives in any job. And if possible, you can also volunteer and serve in your community in various ways. Even stay-at-home moms can contribute so much in many different ways to the lives of others. In fact, being a parent is one of the jobs that is impossible to do well if you are selfish. The idea is to have the attitude of JOY, that we learn in Sunday School. JOY = Jesus, Others, You, the correct order of importance in our lives.
Putting others first and using our special talents to serve seems to come naturally to some and harder for others. But there are things you can do to improve. I read an interesting article that said that in one study, if people were shown a photo of money in the beginning of an experiment, they were less likely to act helpfully to someone who pretended to need help. They didn’t know that was the test , of course. The hypothesis is that our brains get ‘primed’ and that can set us up for a certain way of acting and reacting. They suggested to prime your brain with positive thoughts and images in the morning to start the day off right. You can Google it and find tons of articles on the psychology of priming. I suggest priming your brain with a prayer of gratitude before you even get out of bed. Then read some Bible verses either in your Bible or on your social media feed that you are reading on the toilet. Haha! Yes, I do that, too. Set your social media feed up so that you see that kind of positive input instead of negative articles, memes, and other junk that will prime you for anger, entitled feelings, self-loathing, discontentment, and hopelessness.
Then evaluate your life and think about how you are spending your time. Or you using your special personality, knowledge, understanding, skills, talents or financial resources to help others? Are you taking the time to talk to someone who might need a kind word or some helpful information that you have? Are you willing to give up some of your self-focus to discover the true joy that comes from focusing on others ? Maybe you are still in high school or college or barely into your first job. That’s okay! You can still help create a positive environment for others by choosing to think of how your words and actions affect others and considering other people’s perspectives. Be the person who brings peace and calm to a tense situation. Be the person who gives honest compliments. Be the person who asks the new person to go to lunch. Be the person who doesn’t complain, gossip, or create drama. All of those things can make a huge impact! And you will feel good doing the right thing with your special touch.
Lastly I’d like to add that there are messages all around us that want you to put your needs first, have ME time, be number one, all that. Those messages appeal to our selfish ego or flesh as God calls it. It takes effort to ignore and overcome those messages. Why do they push it so hard? Because they are SELLING things that they promise will make you happier. It’s a lie. Things will not make you happier if you are a selfish miserable person. Things can be fun and are not bad. But shopping and accumulating bigger, newer and more things is not your purpose in life! There is a whole segment of the world that doesn’t even have basic necessities like clean water and food. Do some reading on poverty in this country and you might be shocked. If you are young and single, consider doing some kind of work for a few years to help the less fortunate in this or other countries. If you are not so free, maybe consider donating to the causes. But even if you can’t do that, you can be a good citizen in your community by picking up litter, voting, and finding ways to contribute with your unique personality. God made you for a reason. Don’t miss out on the blessings you’ll get from serving others. Remember, You are special! You have a lot to GIVE.